Rachel lifts her eyes from her book when she hears her brother-in-law shuffle into the room. "Good morning," she smiles up at him.
"Mornin'," Jake shoots back gruffly. "Why the fu-," he cuts himself off and clears his throat. "'S early."
She only smiles back. She knows exactly what he was going to say – he is Noah's brother, after all. (And she chooses to disregard that 'half' thing altogether. Family is family, and the way she sees it, no one can really afford to discriminate over something so trivial as sharing only half of one's DNA.) She also loves that he stopped himself, something his brother probably wouldn't have done. "Would you like some coffee?" She gestures toward hers on the end table. "Mine is decaf, but I'd be happy to make a new pot."
Jake pulls a face that makes her giggle. "Ugh, no." His eyes go a little wide and he looks a bit guilty. "I mean, thanks but no thanks. First of all, I definitely didn't come here for you to wait on me. And second, no offense, but I don't know how you guys drink that stuff. It's awful." Rachel laughs quietly again. "And you're doing it without the caffeine! What's the point?"
Rachel just shrugs and tilts her head a little to one side. "I love it. I'm probably a bit addicted, to be honest. Having to give up my coffee was the first of the very few negative thoughts I had regarding the pregnancy – the others all concerning my body and my return to my career. But," she flips her hand through the air almost over her shoulder, "I immediately switched to decaf, and I've begun to think that what I used to regard as an addiction to caffeine is quite possibly an addiction to coffee itself."
Jake shrugs as if he can't begin to understand and drops into the armchair on the other side of the room from where she's sitting on the couch. "How're you and the jelly bean?" His voice is gravelly with sleep, and Rachel wonders why he even woke up, since she knows she wasn't the cause. She's very quiet in the mornings.
"Are you asking because you're really interested, or because Noah called and told you to?" She smirks at him. "And jelly bean?"
A faint blush spreads across Jake's brown skin. Rachel thinks it's kind of sweet. "Both," he admits, head ducked just a little. "And yeah, jelly bean." He looks back up at her and his eyes are sparkling. "When my aunt Jenny was pregnant, she called hers peanut. But my nephew's gonna be way cooler than a peanut. I figure there's all different kinds of jelly beans, and they're like, kinda hard on the outside and soft on the inside, so they're way more interesting than peanuts. Besides," he smiles this wide smile, and Rachel can't help but smile back, "you're a Berry right? And jelly beans totally come in berry flavors."
Rachel laughs out loud until her hands are pressing into her sides a little because they ache. That is quite possibly one of the cutest things she's ever heard. "You know," she finally says, when she's stopped laughing and Jake is just grinning back at her, "your brother is convinced it's going to be a girl." Okay, that's not entirely true. It's more that he's terrified of it not being a girl (something about all his mother's curses of 'I hope you have a son just like you someday' possibly coming true, she guesses; he promises her it has nothing to do with past mistakes or trying to do things over again, and she believes him), but he won't even fully admit that to her and he would absolutely lose it if she told Jake that.
"I know," he replies cockily. "And ya know, it's not like I've actually done this before myself, but seven months in, couldn't you just find out for sure what it is? That way Puck doesn't have to realize he was wrong on the day the kid's actually born. Or you could just let the doctor tell me."
Rachel shakes her head, but smiles, at Jake's smugness. She loves the relationship he and Noah have, she knows Noah loves it too, and wishes they could have gotten to know each other earlier in their lives. It's all worked out well in the end, though, so she figures the whole situation's not so bad. "We've talked about finding out – many times. But for someone who's so insistent that he 'knows' it's going to be a girl, Noah refuses to find out for sure. And I can only imagine the fun you'd have torturing him if you knew."
"Hey," he shrugs and throws his hands up in the air before settling them behind his head, "what are brothers for?"
Rachel shoots him what is meant to be a disapproving glance, but she's only joking and she knows he can tell. She watches him for a few seconds longer, but he just settles into the chair and lets his eyes drift around the room. After half a minute of them sitting in what she perceives to be a comfortable silence, Rachel turns her attention back to her book. She has no problem entertaining herself, and it appears that Jake feels the same way.
Rachel's made it through almost a chapter of the Austen novel she's reading for the third time when she really notices Jake's fidgeting. He's trying to be quiet, she can tell, but she can also tell he's antsy about something. She puts her book face-down on her lap and looks up at him. When she does, he's looking back at her sheepishly.
"It's okay," she assures him. She should have asked if he'd like to turn on the television. Since she started showing and took leave from her show, she's gotten used to either having the house to herself in the mornings or having Noah around, doing his thing without needing her permission. It didn't really occur to her to tell Jake that he could do something other than just sit there.
"Do you mind?" he points across the room and she sees him eyeing the guitar on the stand in the corner.
"No," she lifts her hand and sort of waves in that direction. "By all means."
"Will he?" Jake lifts one eyebrow questioningly as he stands.
"No." She smirks. "Just don't touch the one in the bedroom."
Jake chuckles a little as he makes his way back to the chair, carrying one of Noah's acoustic guitars gingerly. "Yeah, I think the guitar'd be the least of my problems with Puck if I was in ya'll's bedroom." It's a very Puckerman thing to say, and Rachel doesn't really know the most appropriate way to respond to it coming from her brother-in-law. It doesn't really matter, though, because as soon as he's seated again, this time perched almost on the edge of the chair and leaning forward a bit instead of reclining into it, he's plucking at the strings and fiddling with the tuning pegs.
It's another similarity between the two men, Rachel notes. (She also makes note of the irony of the fact that the only thing Noah and Jake share is the DNA of a man who doesn't deserve to be called 'father' to either of them, yet she can't honestly say that she finds anything wrong with any of the things they apparently inherited.) While she's perfectly content being in the house in complete silence with only a book or a script to keep her company, Noah, as well as Jake, apparently, has to have background noise at all times – even better if it comes in the form of music, and better still if he's the one making it. She knows people most likely expect the opposite and would be surprised to know the truth, but while she certainly knows how to fill the silence, she knows how to appreciate it as well, and though Noah is the 'strong, silent type,' he doesn't like for that to be true about his surroundings. She believes that being so trapped in his own thoughts makes him feel overwhelmed.
Just because Rachel can appreciate the silence, though, doesn't mean she can't appreciate quality background noise just as much. And the 'noise' Jake is creating certainly counts as 'quality.' He's a very talented musician. She won't say he's as good as his brother (and not just because she's married to him, Noah is just … he's incredible), but he's very, very good. He's better than just about anyone else she knows, and that's saying a lot, given her and Noah's career fields.
She feels like some of the melodies he's playing are so very familiar, but then he keeps playing and she decides that she doesn't know the song after all. But then just when she's ready to write it off as something she's never heard, there's that familiarity again. She's just about to ask him what exactly he's playing, because she just can't stand it anymore, when she feels movement – a lot of movement – beneath the hand that's still resting on her rounded stomach. She gasps because it's quite possibly the most activity she's ever felt out of Baby Puckerman.
Jake's playing stops abruptly, his hands stilling on the strings and his eyes growing wide. "Oh God, are you okay? Do I need to call Puck? Do you need to go to the hospital?"
Rachel laughs a little breathlessly. "No, I'm fine. The baby's just kicking. A lot." She laughs again then waves him over. "Come here, feel."
"I-is that allowed?" He furrows his brow and looks at her skeptically.
"Of course it's allowed!" Rachel almost snaps at him. He needs to hurry or he's going to miss it. "Just come feel." He still looks a little nervous as he turns to set the guitar in the chair, but he's moving and within seconds he's on the couch reaching one hand tentatively toward her stomach. She grabs his wrist and tugs until his palm is resting lightly right in the middle of her gigantic (in her opinion) baby bump.
"Oh wow!" Jake's just staring down at his hand with this look of amazement on his face. Rachel loves that look. Noah gets it every time he feels the baby. "He's got some real power, doesn't he?"
Rachel stares at Jake's hand now too, and she sees him jerk it a little bit when the baby delivers a particularly strong blow. "The baby must like you," she tells him. "This is the most I've ever felt it kick."
"Of course he likes me." He's talking to her, of course, but he never takes his eyes off her stomach, leaning even a little closer before going on. "I'm awesome Uncle Jake."
"Yes, well," she shakes her head and sits back as the movement in her stomach comes to a halt and Jake eases away from her a little, "you're going to be Uncle Jake with no place to stay for the next week if Noah catches you calling the baby a 'he' like that." When he first looks at her face he looks a little nervous, but he must be able to see that she's teasing him, because he smirks and moves back to the chair.
"Just wait. He'll see."
Rachel laughs at her brother-in-law's arrogance. Honestly, she can't decide which would be more amusing to her at this point, him being right or him being wrong. (She really, really doesn't care either way about the sex of the baby. As soon as she starts to think that maybe it would be better to have one or the other, she thinks of something else that changes her mind.)
Later, that evening after dinner, Rachel is sitting on the couch with her feet propped up on the ottoman that goes with the armchair and Noah is sprawled across the cushions, his head resting in her lap.
"Your hair's getting long," she tells him as she runs her fingers through it, nails scratching lightly over his scalp.
"I know," he grunts. "Need a haircut."
Rachel only hums. "I like it." She closes her fingers around the strands and tugs a little, just lightly the way she loves herself. "It's kind of curly." His only response is to half-groan, half-growl as he changes the channel on the television to ESPN. "I hope the baby gets your hair."
"Love your hair," Noah mumbles, and Rachel knows he's not just saying it. She's known he liked it since sophomore year. He's never really been able to keep his hands out of it, sometimes innocently, sometimes not so much.
"I know," she sighs, "but still."
Noah rolls onto his back a little and looks up at her. "Thought you wanted 'er to have my nose." (And yes, that conversation had managed to evolve into a full-blown argument. It had taken 20 minutes of screaming and foot-stomping and eye-rolling for her to convince him that she wasn't saying that because she still had a problem with her own nose, but instead because she just really liked his. Once she did, though, he just smirked down at her and said, "Yeah, I am pretty hot.")
She trails her thumb between his eyes and over the bridge of his nose. "I love your nose. And our baby can have more than one thing from you, you know." The tips of her index and middle fingers dance over his lips. "Your mouth is perfect, too."
Noah lifts his head off her lap just a little to nip at her fingers then kisses each one before she pulls her hand away. "Fine by me. The less she gets from you, the less likely I am to end up in prison for murdering some 16-year-old douche."
"Noah!" she swats at his shoulder, but the only move he makes is to roll back over facing the tv. (But honestly? She's pretty sure she would be okay with the baby getting everything from him too, for a completely different reason.) "And you can't be sure -,"
"It's a girl." He cuts her off then mumbles something about the damn Indians.
"This is messed up," Jake says from behind the couch, and Rachel didn't even realize he'd come into the room. She assumes he's referring to something about the baseball game Noah is complaining about so she disregards the comment completely until Noah flips over onto his back to look up at his brother.
"The hell're you talkin' about?"
"That," Jake says, and Noah scowls at him, so Rachel tilts her head back to try to figure out what is going on between the two.
When she looks at him, Jake's just looking down at the two of them there on the couch, and okay, now she's pretty curious too.
Jake rolls his eyes and walks over to have a seat in the chair. "The fact that you're just layin' there all comfy and sh-crap while your wife, who's been busy the last seven months literally growing a person, by the way, pampers you or whatever. It's wrong. S'all I'm sayin'."
"S'not even like that, dude. She likes it. She's like, nesting or whatever," Noah tells him as he rolls back onto his side. And yes, that's true – Rachel really enjoys sitting here with Noah and just sort of petting him like this (and the hormones probably do have something to do with it, amplifying her need to nurture, but she always has enjoyed it, something about getting to feel like she's taking care of him for once) – but he's really going to have to be still because between his tossing and turning and the baby constantly pressing against her bladder, she won't be able to sit much longer otherwise.
"It's true," she smiles at Jake as her fingers trace the shell of Noah's ear. "I'm not sure about the nesting part, but I do enjoy this. It's nice, even a little soothing."
Jake snorts and shakes his head, but he's smiling as he does it. "If you say so."
Noah has told her that Jake is, well, he's not jealous of them, exactly, but he definitely wants what they have. Unlike Noah, Jake spent most of high school in a rather serious relationship. But when high school ended, so did the relationship. It wasn't ugly or anything, just one of those things that happens, but since then he's been basically a serial monogamist, his relationships ranging anywhere from a month to just under a year. On the one hand, Rachel really thinks it's a shame – he's a wonderful man, a wonderful person, really (and she's only a little bit biased thanks to her own relationship to him), and she hates it for him that he has had so much trouble finding what he wants and so clearly deserves – but on the other hand she knows that he'll get there eventually and that when he does, it will all have been worth it. Just look at her and Noah.
The three of them sit in relative quiet for the next several minutes, the men watching the game on the television and Rachel playing Words with Friends with Kurt, one hand holding her phone and the fingers of the other continuing to run over Noah's scalp. After a while, there is a chorus of curses from both Noah and Jake, and Rachel assumes the game must be over because Noah turns off the television and tosses the remote onto the coffee table.
"I take it your team lost," Rachel looks between the brothers and tries not to laugh because, is Noah really pouting?
"Don't wanna talk about it," he grumbles, and Rachel just tucks both of her lips back into her mouth and bites down on them a little to keep him from seeing her smile. She pays a little extra attention to that spot on the nape of his neck that he loves so much, and she can feel him relaxing a little, but she can also feel him getting ready to move, because now it's quiet, which means he'll fidget until it's not.
"Jake," she says sweetly, "why don't you play something for us?"
"Huh?" Jake looks a little confused as he just stares back at her with his brow furrowed.
"Sure," she nods and smiles comfortingly. "There's nothing good on tv, and Noah's worked all day and I never did manage to master the guitar, so you should play something." She doesn't actually know what's on television right now, and she's pretty sure that no amount of exhaustion would keep Noah from playing if someone asked and actually wanted to hear him, but she's kind of had this little idea in her head since the morning and she wants to see it play out.
"That cool?" Jake looks down at Noah, who just halfway shrugs and nods, so he goes to get the guitar he'd played that morning.
Rachel hadn't asked him to play the same melody – song? – he'd played that morning when it was just the two of them, but he does anyway. She feels Noah's fingers tapping on her knee and wonders if he knows the song, but just when it gets to that part that she knows she knows and just can't place, the baby wakes up from the nap she's convinced it takes every night just after she eats dinner and becomes just as active as it was that morning. Noah almost jumps off the couch.
"What was that?" he asks, once he's half-laying, half-sitting with his weight propped on the elbow of the arm that's still stretched across Rachel's lap. He's turned completely over so that his body is angled toward the back of the couch and he's staring directly at her stomach, his free hand pressed against the spot where the back of his head had been only seconds ago.
"That was your child," she tells him, then looks over at Jake and smiles, nodding for him to keep playing.
"I-Is everything okay?" He's rubbing these little circles over her stomach and her eyes fall closed.
"Mmhmm," is all she can manage.
"That was – holy cow!" Rachel giggles at the look of complete awe on his face when she opens her eyes. He leans a little closer to her stomach and she could swear Jake plays a little more quietly when he almost whispers, "You're not 'sposed to kick Daddy in the head, Baby Girl. You scared me." He smoothes his hand over her stomach a few more times, then she's sure he's forgotten about Jake altogether because he lifts her shirt just to her belly button and presses his lips to her skin. She's watching him, because she can't not, really, but she glances over at Jake just for a second and his eyes are focused on his fingers and his cheeks are a little pinker than usual. "Is that normal?" Noah asks once he's smoothed her shirt back into place and gotten comfortable again on his back. Jake's still playing quietly, and one of Noah's hands is still running lazy lines across her stomach because Baby Puckerman hasn't calmed down all the way just yet.
"Well, it is out of the ordinary, as far as the baby and I are concerned, it's never really been that active before," Rachel tells him. "But it's not a problem, if that's what you're asking." Noah only nods and keeps watching his hand move across her stomach.
Whatever it is that Jake's been playing comes to a close and the music tapers off, getting quieter and quieter until there's basically no sound in the room. The baby stops moving, too. Noah looks up again, almost as startled as he'd been when the sudden movement began. "Did you -," he kind of stares at Rachel and she just smiles back at him. "Dude," he looks at Jake as he pushes himself up so that he's sitting next to her. "What was that?"
Jake shrugs like he doesn't see what the big deal is, but he can't quite stop smiling. "Just some stuff I put together. Mash-up of a bunch of Beatles stuff, 'Hey Jude' and 'All You Need is Love,' mostly."
"Noah," Rachel gasps and reaches out for his hand. "Noah, 'Hey Jude.' It's perfect!"
Noah's just kind of looking at the ceiling and shaking his head and Jake asks, "Perfect for what?"
Rachel squirms a little in her seat and she can't stop smiling, and Noah just looks at her like he thinks she's a little crazy. "Well, we've been having a little trouble coming up with a potential boy name for the baby -,"
"'Cause we don't need one."
"- and that's just, Jude. It's perfect."
"We already got a perfect name." Noah's looking at Jake instead of her, and she's sure he's rolling his eyes and making other ridiculous faces to imply that she's lost her mind or something.
The thing is, this is the only baby they're ever going to have. They'll both turn 30 before the end of the year, and she's always said that she didn't want to have any children after she was 30. For one thing, it leaves her plenty of time to get back into her career after the baby's born and she takes some time – a few months or even a year – off to stay at home. For another, she knows how the risks increase once a woman hits 30, and then even more once she hits 35, and those aren't risks she really wants to take if she doesn't have to. Granted, if she'd made it to 30 and she and Noah still hadn't gotten pregnant, she probably would have given it a couple more years. (It didn't take long after they got together, really got together, for her to realize that she wanted everything with him – a marriage, a family, everything.) Luckily though, it hadn't come to that. And once they made it to the second trimester and the doctor assured them that everything was going very well and the risk of anything going wrong was extremely low, Noah scheduled a vasectomy. Honestly, even Rachel was surprised by that, but his rationality when he told her that it was just a much less invasive procedure than it would be for her to have something done to herself was admirable. He also pointed out that it takes about six months after the procedure before it is considered to be 100% effective, which was perfect, because 'It's not like I can knock you up any more than you already are.' So anyway, everything is pretty much a one-time only deal, which, to Rachel at least, means that everything has to be perfect. She wouldn't want her child having a less-than-adequate name under any circumstances, but knowing that this is the only chance they get somehow adds to the pressure.
"We have a perfect girl name," she insists and turns her body toward him, sliding her free hand up his arm to rest on his shoulder. "We have no boy name."
"S'cause we don't need one."
It's funny, actually, because this is very similar to how the conversation went when they came up with that perfect girl name. It was almost ridiculous how easy it was, deciding on the name. Rachel had been watching 'The Little Mermaid,' because it had always been her favorite Disney classic, and Noah came home, dropped onto the couch next to her, and said, "Ya know, Ariel's a Hebrew name. S'pretty too." They talked about it for about 30 seconds, threw Caroline into the middle because they just kind of had to, and had their perfect girl name. But then they argued for the next 30 minutes, Rachel insisting that they now had to have their perfect boy name too, and Noah insisting that they didn't need one at all.
"Noah," Rachel whines, resting her chin on his shoulder and pushing out her bottom lip. "Please, can't we just talk about it? Jude is a really good name."
Noah doesn't turn his head, but he looks at her out of the corner of his eye, and she can see him giving in before he actually says anything. "Fine. We'll talk."
Jake starts to chuckle from his spot on the other side of the room, but Noah whips his head in that direction. "Not you. You don't get to talk. You've done enough already." Jake throws up his hands in surrender, but he doesn't stop laughing.
Rachel's beaming as she shifts on the couch until she's leaning back against the arm a little and her legs are laying across Noah's lap. He's trying to be aggravated with her, and Jake too, probably, but as soon as her legs are on top of his, one hand finds its way to her thigh, just above her knee, and the other begins kneading her calf the way he learned to do when rehearsals for her first show started and she suffered from a Charlie horse for the first time in her life.
"Just think about it – it has a strong musical connection, which, let's face it, we both want even if we don't say it out loud, but it's not some silly pop reference or cliché. And on top of that it's just a really lovely, Hebrew name." She reaches forward to rest one hand on top of his on her thigh. "I think Jude Noah Puckerman sounds wonderful."
He kind of stares at her, and she knows he's thinking about it, that he probably even likes the way it sounds. Finally he sighs like he's been defeated (she knows if he actually had a problem with the name, he'd tell her) and says, "It won't matter."
She just smiles and bites her bottom lip, even bats her eyelashes a couple times. "But if it does?"
He sighs again and shakes his head like he can't believe what he's about to say. "It's a good name." Rachel actually squeals a little and bounces on the couch. "We're not gonna need it," he shoots her a look and she tries to calm herself a bit, "but it's a good name."